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TOP TIPS FOR JOB HUNTERS: How to Find the Right Job for You

Find your career direction and find a great job.

Over your lifetime you may make several career switches and have at least 12 different jobs. However, before you get into that rotating door job pattern, do a career study. Learn the type of work you'd like to stick with that will be valued by those who employ you.

Here is the critical question. Is there a fit between your interests and talents and the job functions that you get paid to perform?

A Right Career Leads to Work Confidence

There are more than 12,000 separate career titles from abalone diver to zoo veterinarian. Which ones make sense for you to pursue?

Let's start with exploring what a career study does. It is important to take both "work activity" and "work setting" into account when deciding on a career direction or a job. In a career study you search out jobs where your strengths, interests, values, personality, and abilities fit with a job and work setting. The study can confirm the career direction you are already taking, help give direction towards a new career objective, or rule out career settings where you could feel like a duck out of water. For example, frequent job changes usually come from "work setting" incompatibility.

A career study boosts your knowledge of job possibilities that fit with your work abilities. For example, what are your strongest work skills? Do you have mechanical talents? Do you have a knack for solving problems? When you put your best talents to work, you can feel work confidence and experience success.

Does your personality have anything to do with the career you select? John Hopkins University professor and career specialist, John Holland, distilled career possibilities down to six personality types and six work settings that fit the types. With a good fit between "type" and "work setting" (i.e. creative types working in a graphics arts studio), you can experience greater work satisfaction and success.

Holland's theory is supported by the results of a meta-analysis. Here are the six career personality factors:

Realistic: practical, hands on, use of tools.
Investigative: exploring, analyzing. Artistic: creative, originating, independent.
Social: supportive, helping.
Enterprising: persuasive, leading.
Conventional: detail-oriented, organized.

RIASEC is the acronym for the six types. You can rank each personality type from high to low on this scale. This gives you a general direction for making a career selection. However, if you choose to work with a licensed career counselor, you will have access to standardized career inventories, such as the standardized Strong Interest Inventory. The Strong incorporates the RIASEC system.

The Strong helps answer this question: how closely do your interest patterns compare to people successfully working in varied careers? Do you share common interests with managers or miners? If your two top RIASEC areas are social and realistic you may find satisfaction teaching technical skills. However, inventory results are suggestive, not perfect. Use the results to explore productive job possibilities.

When the different standardized career measures point in the same direction, you can have more confidence in those options. For example, the 16 Personality Factor (16PF) Career Development Report complements the Strong. It gives information on normal personality factors and shows a pattern of strengths that align with different careers to predict success. If both instruments give overlapping results, you have a double reason to explore the career area(s).

Standardized career measures don't substitute for common sense. Suppose your interests and temperament suggest musician as a career choice. Unfortunately, you are tone deaf. Playing a musical instrument is not viable. Are you skunked? If you also have a pattern similar to retail sales managers, selling musical supplies to musicians might be worth exploring. You may have an easy time establishing rapport with musicians. That rapport can lead to return business, referrals by "happy customers," and work enjoyment.

If you think you can profit from a standardized career study, check with your local college or university. See if they have a reasonably priced career counseling program or if they can refer you to an affordable, academically-trained, licensed career counselor. Your career is too valuable to turn into a Las Vegas style gamble by taking guidance from an un-credentialed job guru that chose to skip professional academic training and can't be licensed. Frankly, about 90% of finding a career direction and getting a dream job is psychological, You have to know the protocol for a search, but you are the prime mover for what you do.

Are career books helpful for a career study? Sometimes. What Color is Your Parachute? is a popular heuristic career study method with some strengths and many shortcomings. Heuristics include discovering solutions by using tidbits from experience, such as "when in doubt, flip a coin." The author's (Richard Bolles) guided discovery approach can start you thinking about what career holds the most promise for you. However, an over-reliance on heuristics invites distorted reasoning and bad decisions, thus raising the risk that you'll have a discolored parachute.

Your Work Preferences

In Fearless Job Hunting (New Harbinger, 2010) Sam Klarreich, Russ Grieger, Nancy Knaus, and I designed a career decision center with three quick-start methods for boosting your career self-knowledge. I'll describe one.

What job functions do you prefer to perform? Use the following five-point Career Preference Profile to match the work you prefer to do against a job description to see if you have a good fit. Question two focuses on your preferred job functions. The other four items are contextual. Your answers give you a framework to decide if you have a fit between what you want and what an employer offers.

1. What do you consider purposeful and meaningful work: Helping others? Exploring promising new markets?
2. What work functions do you prefer: Working through others? Solving problems? Working with devises? Conjuring up ideas? Organizing?
3. What do you value at in a career: Working cooperatively with people? Recognition for a job well done? Freedom to follow promising new initiatives?
4. What are your primary work dispositions: An even temperament? Impatience? Confidently responding to changes and challenges? How do these characteristics fit with the job?
5. What's a good work level: Are you effective in an executive capacity? Would you rather take than give direction? (Stick with reality on this one, not with fantasy.)

Here is an added incentive for finding a good job "fit." Do more of what you prefer and you'll procrastinate less. Competence promotes job security.

If you want to know more about Fearless Job Hunting, and specifically how procrastination can interfere with all phases of a job search, Tim Pychyl and I did a podcast on this topic at:

Check out Fearless Job Hunting at:

Dr. Bill Knaus